Sheffield City Council has secured funding to introduce a scheme to let local taxi drivers borrow an electric taxi on a trial basis.
The scheme will give local drivers experience of the next generation of taxis for the first time in the summer of 2021.
The fleet of up to 11 vehicles will be available initially for short term trials of 2 to 4 weeks. They aim to give drivers an idea of what an electric taxi is like to run, maintain and finance.
The funding to purchase the vehicles has been secured from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – with revenue funding to deliver the scheme from Sheffield Council. The Council will be seeking to procure a delivery partner for the scheme in early 2021.
Electric vehicles help to reduce NO2 – the pollutant from diesel vehicles which can lead to heart disease, strokes and stunting the growth of children’s lungs. The trials will give drivers all the benefits of an electric vehicle without the overhead costs. Many who previously looked to upgrade their vehicles may have had plans set back by the impact of COVID, which had a significant impact on drivers of traditional Hackney Cabs.
In keeping with Sheffield’s licensing standards, the taxis will be 100% wheelchair accessible. Taxi drivers looking to charge their vehicles will be able to do so at 27 new rapid charging points being installed across the city and coming online in early 2021, with 10 points reserved solely for taxis.
Speaking about the move, Bob Johnson, cabinet member for transport and sustainability, said: “Changing to electric, especially when you’re driving all day is a big shift and giving local drivers a chance to ‘try before you buy’ will help to make that change easier for some.”